Click for next page ( 15


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 14
2 Management THE MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE Lee facilities in the weapons complex are owned by the federal government and operated by private contractors selected and supervised by DOE. Management in the complex is the responsibility of the Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs (ASDP). Supervision of the contractors at each of the sites is provided by field offices, which are in the line management structure of the Office of Defense Programs (DP) (see Table 2.13. Field offices are of two kinds: operations offices and area offices. The principal official in an area office reports to an operations office, and the manager of the operations office in turn reports to officials at DOE headquarters. In the past, some managers of DOE field offices reported directly to the Undersecretary, whereas others reported to the ASDP. The field offices receive direction from several entities at DOE headquarters, in addition to the Undersecretary and the ASDP. For example, direction is also given by the Assistant Secretaly for Environment, Safety, and Health (ASEH) and the Assistant Secretary for Management and Administration, as well as by the General Counsel. At times the field offices have been challenged to respond to inconsistent directions trom different offices at DOE headquarters. For example, a fundamental conflict exists between security and safety directives concerning the need to evacuate buildings rapidly in the event of an accident Safety directives require emergency exits, yet some security directives require that personnel exit through manned security checkpoints. The budgeting for and the coordination of the operations of the complex are, in the first instance, the responsibilities of the ASDP. However because the costs of 14

OCR for page 14
MANAGEMENT TABLE 2.1 DOE Operadens Offices and Facilities Subject to this Study in the Weapons Complex 15 Albuquerque Op~radons Office Management Support Division: Amarillo Area Office: Dayton Area Office: Kansas City Area Office: Los Alamos Area Office: Pinellas Area Office: Idaho Operations Office Oak Ridge Operations Office Richland Operations Office Rocky Flats Operations Office San Francisco Operations Office Savannah River Operations Office Sandia National Laboratory P - tex Plant Mound Facility Kansas City Plant Los Alamos National Laboratory Pinellas Plant Idaho Chemical Processing Plant Ashtabula Plant Feed Materials Production Center Y-12 Plant Hanford Nuclear Reservation Rocky Flats Plant Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Savannah River Site operations are so substantial and because, in recent years, public and congressional scrutiny has become so intense, the Undersecretary and the Secretary have also become intimately involved in budget, priority setting, and planning activities. Until recently, oversight to assure that operations comply with health, safety, and environmental and requirements and with other DOE orders (see the discussion of DOE orders below) has been the responsibility of the ASEH. Within the past several years, performance of this function was perceived to have become ineffective, and the Department made significant efforts to upgrade the scope, extent, and rigor of the oversight activities of the ASEH. Although the size of the Office of Environment, Safety, and Health (EH) staff increased as a result, neither this staff nor that of DP, which has line management authority, is large, especially when viewed in relation to the total number of people in the nuclear weapons complex. In FY 1989, DP and EH were authorized to have about 2,800 and 240 full-time equivalents, respectively, while the total number of employees among the operating contractors was about 64,000. Of the EH employees, about 85 percent are dedicated to DP. Because of personnel ceilings and difficulties in recruiting and retaining personnel with the necessary expertise, both the ASDP and ASEH have found it necessary to make extensive use of outside consultants to assist In the management function. The number of such connect employees helping DP and EH perform their functions in FY 1989 was about 220 and 300, respectively. In the spring of 1989, the Secretary of Energy issued a notice (SEN-6-89, DOE 1989b) that the ASDP was to assume full responsibility for operational programs and activities related to health, safety, and environmental protection and that the

OCR for page 14
16 THE NUCl~:AR WEAPONS COMPLEX ASEH was to be relieved of responsibility for reactor and nonreactor nuclear facility safety. (See the discussion in the section "Changes" below.) Contractors Actual operation of the facilities in the weapons complex is performed by private contractors, and several contractors often perform different functions at the same site (see Table 2.2~. Most of the technical expertise with regard to design, construction, and operations, as well as detailed knowledge of the facilities, resides with the contractors. If DOE seeks to address a health, safety, or environmental issue or to assess a problem that has arisen, it must place principal reliance on the on-site contractor. Maintaining the motivation and sldlls of the contractors is thus vital to the safe and proper operation of the complex. In light of the special dependence of DOE on its contractors for technical and management skills, the relationship between contractors and the DeparOnent must be a partnership. The relationship is unusual in procurement situations: DOE cannot ordinarily provide detailed specifications that precisely define a contractor's obligations. Rather, DOE and the contractor must work together to confront challenges that, in part, will be defined during the contract term. Contracts typically provide the contractor with independent authority to manage its operations, including some leeway in spending available funds subject, of course, to audit. In matters of health, safety, and the environment, however, DOE retains full contractual authority to require the contractor to follow Department instructions. The Department headquarters issues its formal operational and safety instructions to contractors principally in the form of DOE orders. Specifically, DOE has established or is seeking to establish a hierarchy of orders to describe safe practices in the design and operation of nuclear weapons facilities, as well as other facilities operated by or for the Department. Most government organizations require their contractors to meet age upon standards and specifications, but they do not issue specific directives after initiation of a contract. In contrast, DOE orders may become effective during the term of a contract and prescribe new requirements for conduct by DOE organizational units and contractors. Award Fees A Deparunent contract typically provides that the contractor shall recover the cost of operations, plus a fee that is determined at least in part by the adequacy of the contractor's performance. To some contractors, the fee is not substantial, but it can still serve as an important incentive for plant managers. The operators of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) do not receive performance-based award fees. It appears that DOE has made little use of this mechanism for improving performance, since the fees awarded have not varied

OCR for page 14
MANAGEMENT TABLE 2~2 Management and Operations Conductors of Facilities Considers in this Sway. Infonnation proveby DOE. 17 Facility Management and Operstions Contractor Dates of Operation Ashtabula Plant (1952~* Westinghouse Materials Co. of Ohio Reactive Metals, ldc. Bridgeport Brass Co. Feed Materials Producdon Center (1951) Westinghouse Materials Co. of Ohio National Lead of Ohio, Inc. Hanford Chemical Separation Facilities (1945) Westinghouse Hanford Co. Rockwell Hanford Corp. Atlantic Richfield Hanford Co. Isochem, ~c. General Electric Corp. ED. du Pant de Nemours and Co. Idaho Chemical Processing Plant (1951) Westinghouse Idaho Nuclear Co. Exxon Nuclear Idaho Co., Inc. Allied Chemical Coup. Idaho Nuclear Co. Phillips Petroleum Amencan Cyanamid Kansas City Plant (1948) Allied-Signal Aerospace Co./KC Division (formerly Bendix Kansas City Division) Lawrence Livennore National Laboratory (1952) University of California Los Alamos National Laboratory (1943) University of California Mound Plant (1947) EG&cG Applied Technologies Monsanto Chemical Co. Pantex Plant (1951) Mason ~ Hanger-Silas Mason Co., ~c. Proctor dc Gamble Pinellas Plant (1957) General Electric Corp. Rocly Flats Plant (1951) EG&G Rocky Flats Coup. Rockwell International Dow Chemical 1987-1992 1963-1987 195~1963 1985-1992 1951-1985 1987-1992 1975-1987 1967-1975 1964 1967 194~1964 1945-1946 198~1994 1979-1984 1971-1978 196~1971 1953-1966 1951-1953 1948-1991 1952-1992 1943-1992 1988-1993 1947-1988 1956-1991 1951-1956 1957-1993 1989-1993 1975-1989 1951-1975 Tabk 22 continues

OCR for page 14
18 TABLE 2.2 Continued THE NUCI~AR WEAPONS COMPILE Facility Management and Operations$ Contractor Dates of Operation Sandia National Laboratory (1948) AT&T (formerly Western Electric) University of Califorrua Savannah River Site (1953) Westinghouse Savannah River Co. E. I. du pant de Nemours and Co. Y-12 Plant (1943) Martin Marietta Energy Systems, Inc. Union Carbide Corp. Tennessee Eastman Coup. 1949-1993 1948-1949 1989-1993 1953-1989 1984 1994 1947-1984 1943-1947 *Dates in parentheses indicate start of operation. significantly over time. We recognize that some, perhaps most, contractors are motivated by more than the desire for profitby a sense of public service, or the opportunity to develop or sharpen expertise that can be applied elsewhere, or the chance to maintain a presence in nuclear activities at a time when commercial nuclear opportunities are declining. Contractor Turnover In recent years the principal contractor at a number of sites has changed (see Table 2.29. When a new contractor assumes responsibility the top management of a site may be replaced, but as a practical matter most of the existing staff are retained. The turnover among contractors thus does not reflect a drastic upheaval in contractor personnel, most of whom have been employed at their sites for many years. This pattern is a source of both benefits and costs. The facilities are manned by staff who are familiar with operations from long experience, but they are also accustomed to the old attitude that production automatically takes precedence over health, safety, and environmental goals. The recent turnover in contractors is, evidently, in part a consequence of conclusions reached by corporate boards of directors that the management of DOE weapons facilities is not sufficiently rewarding. The public outcry over health, safety, and environmental problems has not made the contractor's function any more attractive. The problem is aggravated by considerations of liability. As DOE acknowledges the authority of state and local jurisdictions in matters of public health, safety, and environment and narrows the indemnification it offers to its contractors, it creates the prospect that a contractor might incur substantial fines for noncompliance. Thus, considerations of liability may serve to reduce the pool of potential contractors who are prepared to operate facilities in the complex. In the past 2 years' two major contractors decided not to bid for continuation of

OCR for page 14
MANAGEMENT 19 their contracts. At the same time, a third him has aggressively pursued contacts at several major sites. If some of the smaller facilities are closed (see Appendix B), this third fi'Tn may play an increasingly dominant role in managing the nuclear weapons complex. The Mend is contrary to the generally understood governmental intent to diversify its contractor force to avoid excessive dependence on a single performer in areas of national security. External Oversight The Deparunent of Energy has become aware, pardy as a result of a report issued by the National Research Council (NRC 1987) concerning the defense production reactors, that the Department and its contractors have become too insular. In response Be Secretary (DOE 1987) chartered an independent Advisory Committee on Nuclear Facility Safety (ACNFS), a committee of knowledgeable individuals largely from outside the complex. Participation on the ACNFS is a part-dine activity for its members, but the ACNFS has already succeeded in reviewing activities at many of the nuclear weapons facilities and has submitted numerous findings and recommendations to the Secretary. In 1988, Congress enacted legislation (Public Law 100456, 102 Stat. 20763 to create a new federal agency to act as an external oversight body, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB). The DNFSB is to be a five-member board appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate and supported by a staff of 100. The board is directed by statute to issue reports from time to time examining and assessing the safety of the weapons complex. The reports are to be public to the extent possible. The Secretary will be required to respond to the recommendations of the DNFSB. If the DNFSB determines that its recommendation relates to an imminent or severe threat to public health or safety, its recommendation and that of the Secretary will be submitted to the President for decision. At the time this report was wntten, the board had not yet become operational. CHANGES The new Secretary of Energy has stated his desire to revise the current management structure of the De~unent significantly. As a first step in the reorganization, the Secretary issued a notice (SEN-6-89, DOE 1989b) on May 19 that provides some indication of his intentions. The notice has several components: To establish unambiguous internal accountability for the compliance of operations in the nuclear weapons complex with health, safety, and environmental requirements, the Secretary has placed these line management responsibilities entirely on the ASDP. The ASEH was explicitly relieved of responsibility for developing and coordinating policy for nuclear reactors and nonreactor nuclear facility safer; this responsibility is being assigned to the Assistant Secretary for

OCR for page 14
20 THE NUCl~:AR WEAPONS COMPLEX Nuclear Energy (ASNE). The ASEH will continue to have responsibility for health, radiation safety, environmental protection, and worker safety. (Also see Tuck 1989.) The ACNFS will be directed to cease its examination of safety issues that are within the purview of He congressionally chartered DNFSB, once He Chairman of the DNFSB provides notice that that board is prepared to assume oversight responsibilities. The ACNFS will continue to exist, but it will focus on operations other than those being examined by the DNFSB. The manager of the Savannah River Operations Office was directed to report to the ASDP, rather than to the Undersecretary as in the past. This change was intended to clarify the responsibility of the ASDP for operations. At the same time, the Secretary created several new positions, relating to the restart of the Savannah River reactors, that also report to the ASDP. The changes reflect a recognition by the Secretary that the management challenges facing DOE require careful reexamination of how the Deparunent has operated in the past. Indeed, the order describing the changes stated that an "extensive review" of organizational structures and management practices was under way and that father announcements would be made. In September, the Secretary described additional organizational changes affecting oversight of nuclear facility safety within the Department (Watkins, letter to J.F. Ahearne, ACNFS, September 1989; SEN-6A-89, DOE l989c). He established offices within DP, the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE), and the Office of New Production Reactors that would provide independent checks on nuclear safety performance in the respective line organizations. The Nuclear Self- Assessment Offices will report directly to the senior program officials in the respective offices. In addition, he established a separate Office of Nuclear Safety with broad responsibilities to monitor and audit all aspects of nuclear safety in the Deparunent, reporting directly to the Office of the Secretary. We agree with the Secretary that line management under the ASDP should have undiluted responsibility for all aspects of the operations of the weapons complex, including safeguarding health, safety, and the environment. Line management now clearly has the obligation to satisfy multiple objectives, and production can no longer have priority over health, safety, and the environment. Yet, a process must still exist by which unavoidable conflicts can be confronted between production targets and health, safety, and environmental obligations in the face of limited resources of budgets, facilities, and personnel. As discussed later in this chapter, the Secretary's reorganization plan does not yet adequately address how these conflicting needs are to be reconciled. AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT The many problems now confronting DOE in connection with the weapons complex are in large part the cumulative result of past management deficiencies.

OCR for page 14
MANAGEMENT 21 We believe that restructuring should be guided by the following considerations: 1. Lines of authority and responsibility in the management and operation of the facilities should be clear, simple, and unambiguous. 2. Decisions about any issue should be made initially at the lowest level of management with the competence and authority to make them. 3. An internal safety oversight staff should be maintained with the power to raise issues to the next management level when unresolved conflicts anse. 4. Effective communications with contractors and among the different offices at each level in the management structure are essential. 5. Technical advice and assistance from outside the organization should be sought to gain fresh perspectives. 6. Constant attention should be paid to the maintenance and improvement of the technical capabilities and morale of personnel, whether federal or contractor employees, upon whom the effectiveness of the entire program depends. These principles are rudimentary, but we perceive that the Department has not applied them consistently in the past. Simple Lines of Authority Conclusion The weapons facilities are operated under a complex management structure with ambiguous lines of responsibility and authority. Although the ASDP has initial line responsibility for budget issues and for the overall management of the nuclear weapons complex, several managers of operations do not report directly to the ASDP, but instead report to the Undersecretary. In the case of the manager of the Savannah River Operations Office, this special line of reporting has been changed by SEN-6-89 (DOE 1989b), as noted above. The reality is that in the past the operations offices have not received much uniform central direction or control. This is obvious on even a casual visit to the sites. The Secretary's notice is intended to clarify the responsibility of the ASDP as the responsible line manager for operation of the complex. Hereafter, the manager for the Savannah River Operations Office is to report to him, and presumably, this prefigures similar changes in the reporting responsibilities elsewhere in the complex. The responsibilities of the various operations and area offices with respect to headquarters, each other, and the contractors are largely the product of history. The Albuquerque Operations Office, for example, has broad responsibilities. It supervises a full range of activities at a variety of weapons facilities across the country, so it cannot specialize its expertise or focus its attention on particular types of operations. The office also seems to take care of matters that might be considered DOE headquarters functions, such as evaluating and setting priorities for all requests for improvement of facilities across the entire nuclear weapons

OCR for page 14
22 THE NUT WEAPONS COMPLY complex. Whether or not these appearances inhibit efficient management is unclear to us, but they deserve careful examination. Recommendation The Secretary should continue his efforts to simplify the line management structure for the complex, establishing clear and unambiguous lines of authority and responsibility. Decisionmaking Processes Conclusion Many decisions are now unnecessarily deferred by staff to higher management levels, sometimes creating delay and paralysis in decisionrnalang. Although it is clear that upper management should be fully informed about controversial matters and obviously should have full discretion to revisit any decision made by subordinate decisionmakers, the system should encourage initial resolution at the lowest management level with the competence and authority to resolve a matter, subject to review if necessary. This is the only approach that can ensure that upper management levels are not swamped with unresolved matters, thereby increasing the likelihood of faulty or misinformed decisions. The system is too complex to be managed by just a few decisionmaking individuals. The budget process provides a case in point. We were informed that all budget issues relating to environmental and safety issues are routinely referred to the ASDP, and often to the Undersecretary, for resolution. Although He sensitivity of such matters in the current climate might explain the reluctance of managers to make even tentative determinations of priorities, the fact remains that not all issues can or should be addressed at the highest levels in the Department. Indeed, the decisionmaking process should limit the issues that reach the upper levels of the Department to those that present only the most difficult judgmental or policy questions. Of course, if staff at lower levels are to resolve issues in a fashion consistent with the objectives of upper management, management must provide clear guidelines for decisionmaking. Recommendation The Department should strengthen its management structure by delegating authority and responsibilityfor the initial resolution of issues to the lowest possible management levels, subject to clear guidance and support from upper management. Internal Oversight Structure Conclusion An oversight body internal to DOE but outside line management, such as the organization under the direction of the Assistant Secretary of

OCR for page 14
MANAGEMENT 23 Environment, Safety, and Health, is essential in ensuring the compliance of operations with health, safe ry, and environmental objectives. As noted already, oversight of the line management of the complex has been provided in the past by the ASEH. Several studies, commencing with an internally chartered report (DOE 1981), have urged the Department to upgrade that office to assure that it can perform its function. Over the past several years, the Department has made continuing efforts to strengthen the EH organization through increased funding and substantially increased manpower. These efforts were noted with approval in previous reports by the National Research Council (1987, 198Sb). The Secretary stated in his May 1989 notice that the ASEH will no longer have responsibility for overseeing reactor and nonreactor nuclear safely within the weapons complex. The Secretary perceives the ASEH role to be diluting responsibility, and he therefore intends to give a single line manager, the ASDP, the responsibility for safety. We believe that the Secretary has misperceived the function of the EH organization bod1 to support DP with specialized expertise and to monitor the health, safety, and environmental performance of DP. We agree that the line management should have undiluted responsibility and authority for ensuring the safety of operations, as well as compliance with health and environmental requirements. The oversight function is not intended and should not be allowed to diminish that responsibility. Its purpose is to provide a second set of eyes to monitor activities and thereby to ensure that any deficiencies in decisions by the operational line management are reported and corrected before an accident or other adverse effect occurs. The currently popular maxim of "trust, but verify" applies. The oversight function, if properly implemented, has an important role in the DOE management structure. As noted above, decisions should be made at the lowest line management level with competence if decisional gridlock is to be avoided. The oversight staff should monitor those decisions for their implications for health, safety, and environmental concerns. When it questions the operational decision, the oversight staff should be able to bring the matter to the next higher level of line management for resolution. If the system operates properly, oversight provides a mechanism for assuring that important issues and a balanced and fair presentation of the fact~are brought up the management chain. In the absence of this tension between operations and oversight organizations, the system must rely solely on the strength of line management and an important element of redundancy in assuring safety is lost. Similar conclusions were reached in an evaluation of the management deficiencies in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that contributed to the space shuttle Challenger accident in January 1986 (Rogers 19863. In response, NASA found it appropriate to create an independent internal organization to oversee safety (National Academy of Public Administration 19861. We recognize that the Secretary's actions in diminishing the role of EH may be

OCR for page 14
24 THE NUCl~AR WEAPONS COMPLEX explained by additional factors. First, the Department may have concluded that the current supply of technically capable personnel is insufficient to provide adequate staff for both line management and oversight. Indeed, the recent strengthening of the EH staff may in some instances have been at the expense of that of the DP. Moreover, the acOviDes of EH may in some instances have been seen as intruding on the management prerogatives of flee DP. There thus may well have been an impression within the Department that the EH had expanded beyond its appropriate bounds. Further, the ability to provide the operational line management with staff competent in health, safety, and environmental areas in competition with the DNFSB, the DOE contractors, and other private industrial organizations as well as other agencies of government at all levels may have led the Deparunent to conclude that the ASEH could not retain or recruit the necessary staff to continue providing safety oversight. Second, the Secretary's notice described the change in the ASEH oversight of safety in light of the pending establishment of the congressionally chartered DNFSB (see above). Because the DNFSB is to provide detailed scrutiny of line management to assure safe operations, the Deparunent apparently has concluded that it is unnecessary to maintain an internal organization that would serve a duplicative purpose. We agree that it is manifestly inefficient, perhaps even counterproductive, to establish multiple layers of redundant oversight, each with extensive staffs. Nonetheless, we believe that it is unwise to eliminate the responsibility for oversight within DOE that is separate from the DP line management. The DNFSB is not yet in place, and the new board should be given some opportunity to build its capabilities. More importantly, the DNFSB is designed to serve a function somewhat different from that of an internal safety oversight organization. Because it is a part of DOE's internal structure, the DOE safety organization can raise matters that affect safety internally for resolution within the line management organization in a way that DNFSB staff will not be able to do. Examples of such matters include the budget, allocation of resources, and maintenanceall of which entail decisions that affect safety but that would be beyond the reach of an outside agency. Indeed, many issues raised by independent internal safety personnel can and should be resolved at a local level without any involvement even of the DOE headquarters staff. The DNFSB, on the other hand, will not be part of the Department- it will speak formally to the Secretary through public announcements and thus it will not be in a position to elevate issues within the DeparOnent's organization. The difficulty experienced within the complex in providing for adequate maintenance illustrates the need for independent internal oversight. Managers have been and will continue to be under considerable pressure to meet production goals. In the past this circumstance has had a direct effect on the ability to conduct maintenance activities. For instance, the management of the Y-12 Plant told us that in the face of budgetary strictures, maintenance is the main victim. In 1984, about 25 percent of the plant was rated as being in poor physical condition

OCR for page 14
MANAGEMENT 25 or as having inadequate technology; the record has improved only slightly in the interim. We also received data at several sites about the growth of the backlog in responding to requests for maintenance. At the Idaho laboratory about 10 percent of backlog requests are more than 2 years old. At the time of our visit to Rocky Flats in Mach 1989, a considerable number of maintenance work orders designated as safety related were several months old. The facilities at the complex are aging, and considerations of national security require that the physical plant remain in adequate condition. The specific funding level that should be allocated to maintenance or replacement of equipment is, in the aggregate, unclear. Rules of thumb applicable to industry may not be appropriate for the complex, and situations within the complex vary from one facility to another. It is clear, however, that maintenance has in general been shortchanged. In these circumstances of the long-standing and pervasive inability of line management to confront the problem, there is an essential obligation to maintain careful oversight. Officials independent of line management should identify the essential requirements for maintenance that affect health, safety, or the environment and should fight to assure appropriate resources for maintenance. In sum, we conclude that an independent oversight body within the complex should be maintained to audit and monitor the DP for compliance at all levels and raise concerns with appropriate levels of decisionmakers. This oversight body need not be the existing EH organization, and oversight for safety, environment, and health issues need not necessarily be performed by a single entity. Although there is opportunity for organizational reform, the function of oversight should be maintained. Whenever the cognizant oversight staff finds a lack of compliance with goals or applicable orders or regulations, or determines that designs, practices, or allocation of resources violate or threaten to violate reasonable standards at any level of management, they should attempt to ensure appropriate actions by DP line management. Failing agreement, the oversight staff should then have authority to 1. compel consideration of the matter to the next higher level of operational management in consultation with staff at that level; in cases of continued disagreement, it should be possible to continue this process up the management line eventually leading to the ASDP, the Undersecretary, or ultimately, to the Secretary; and 2. bring about a cessation of activity in cases of perceived imminent danger to the health and safety of workers at the facility or of individuals in neighboring communities. As this report was being written in the early fall of 1989, it was unclear whether the recently announced Nuclear Self-Assessment Offices would eventually be able to perform the oversight functions we have outlined, because few details about their actual capabilities and operations were available. It appears to us,

OCR for page 14
26 THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMPLY however, that the organizational solutions outlined thus far by DOE do not fully address the identified problems. Because line management is to be given responsibility to oversee its own operations for safety, subject only to scrutiny by a newly created independent office (Office of Nuclear Safety) reporting directly to the Secretary, there exists no integrated system to elevate important safety issues beyond Be ASDP. In some cases, it may eventually happen that DOE's internal oversight program and DNFSB find themselves assuming unnecessarily duplicative roles. In these cases, the Department and the board should cooperate to determine just how each organization might adjust its functions to accommodate the other. It is premature now to determine the appropriate roles; the relationship must evolve with time. Recommendation The Department should maintain an internal oversight organization with the authority to seek resolution of issues within the line management structure. Communication Directives from Headquarters Conclusion Problems exist in the development and content of communications from DOE headquarters tofield offices and contractors. As discussed above, the vehicle by which DOE headquarters provides formally binding instructions on health, safety, and environmental performance to field offices and contractors is the series of DOE orders. We perceive problems in both the orders and the means by which they are developed. DOE facilities, both within the weapons complex and elsewhere, differ significantly from each other. This diversity creates difficulties in the application of the orders. An order that provides concrete directions at one type of facility will not necessarily be appropriate at another. Ideally, orders should be so carefully drawn as to provide specific guidance and, at the same time, be flexible enough to address appropriately the wide range of different facilities to which they are applicable. It might be easier to tailor the orders to specific facilities or types of facilities, for example, research laboratories or production plants, instead of requiring all facilities to meet the same requirements. The task of developing appropriate orders is difficult at best. The shortage of qualified talent at DOE headquarters aggravates the problem, and at~mpiing to supplement this talent by acquiring the services of ad hoc contractors is often only counterproductive. Such contractors cannot bring the necessary breadth of experience to the task. The process by which draft orders are reviewed is coordinated by a division ot

OCR for page 14
MANAGEMENT 27 DOE's Office of Management and Administration. This organization is responsible for refereeing the review and comment process. However, it is not staffed with personnel having technical expertise in health, safety, and environmental issues. Further, in a recent effort to respond to an earlier recommendation of the National Research Council (1987) regarding the need to strengthen the system by which DOE orders are promulgated, the Department established expedited schedules. The time available for external review of health, safety, and environmental orders was shortened from the customary period of 6 weeks to 72 hours. Moreover, DOE field offices and contractors have told us that their comments on draft orders appear to have little effect. Although the changes have allowed DOE headquarters to update and issue further orders, they have not had the benefit of a careful review process. A case in point is a recently issued DOE order (5480.11) addressing radiation protection for occupational workers. The consensus of a contractor conference (Albuquerque, January 31-February 3, 1989) was that this order will not significantly reduce risk, that it will be expensive to implement, and that it is overly broad in its reach. Yet, as far as we have been able to determine, the results of the conference have had little if any effect on the order. The process for maintaining and disseminating orders is itself antiquated. The entire series consists of 11 volumes that are maintained manually. An up-to-date index of the set is not available, and there is no cross-referencing system to identify orders pertaining to a particular subject or applying to a particular facility. DOE is currently investigating how to make the orders available on a computerized data base and should pursue this effort vigorously. Moreover, the process continues to lack a formal mechanism for reviewing orders on a periodic basis to determine whether there is need to prune unneeded or superseded orders or to revise current ones to bring them up to date with currently accepted standards and practices. Operations of rices are responsible for providing direction specific to the facilities within their purview based on orders issued by DOE headquarters. In general, however, the operations offices do not provide additional specialized direction, with the result that disparate facilities are governed by the same instructions. Further, when operations offices do provide colored directions, no formal mechanism exists to ensure that the intention of the underlying order is met. Recommendation DOE should reform its system for preparing and promulgating its orders to address the deficiencies identified above. Exchange of Information within the Complex Conclusion Communications among organizations that confront common problems and efforts to focus the resources of the complex on f nding solutions are inadequate.

OCR for page 14
28 THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMPLEX Many of the facilities in the weapons complex confront similar challenges in assuring safe and environmentally sound operations. Thus communication within the complex can help to ensure that each facility obtains the benefit of lessons learned at other plants and that resources are not needlessly spent with a variety of contractors independently seeking solutions to common problems. Moreover, communication can identify problems that, though only an irritant at any one facility, may be significant in aggregate across the complex. The full resources of the complex can Den be focused on resolving such problems swiftly and efficiently. We found that many of the contractors and the associated operations offices operated independently, with insufficient awareness of the existence of similar problems elsewhere in the complex. False alarms from the alpha continuous air monitors (alpha-CAMs) provide an illuminating example. These devices monitor for alpha particles, which indicate the presence of certain radioactive materials in the air, including plutonium. A number of facilities found that operations were frequently disrupted by alarms from the alpha-CAMs, most of them false alarms. It is customary when an alarm is triggered to clear the area immediately until technicians with protective apparatus can investigate. But the alarms are (or were) also sensitive to alpha emissions from radon, and normal background fluctuations of radon frequently triggered the alarms unnecessarily. Although the problem was occurring throughout the complex interfering significantly with production at some locationslittle or no effort was made to focus the full resources of the complex on solving it. Facilities worked on the problem independently, some without much progress. Personnel at the LANL, however, were particularly knowledgeable about the problem and conducted some research toward its resolution, but their insights were apparently not disseminated effectively to the other plants. Similarly, results of research on this problem conducted at other sites were not widely shared. Although greater efforts at facilitating communication among the contractors and among DOE staff are needed, there are no simple prescriptions for accomplishing them. While decisions defining the responsibilities within the complex flow appropriately from the Secretary down, there must be encouragement of decentralized initiative by all levels of contractor and DOE staff. Such initiatives span the range from identification of health, safety, and environmental problems to the resolution of technical and management problems. DOE is conducting topical conferences dealing with technical subjects of relevance throughout the complex. Examples include annual topical meetings on plutonium processing, modeling of environmental processes, operation of incinerators, and topics of interest to the medical directors of the respective facilities (see also Chapter 5~. We received the strong impression that the opportunities for attending such conferences could be used more fully and that the attendees from each organization could share their information more effectively with their colleagues, so that they could learn as well as share. An electronic mail network is available to most, if not all, personnel working in the complex. These

OCR for page 14
MA~AGEME~ 29 means of communications and others, both formal and informal, should be encouraged. Recommendation The Department should work harder to overcome the natural impediments to the pow of information among contractors and to facilitate communication among the contractors and among DOE staff. Independent Technical Advice Conclusion The Department is not aggressive enough in seeking the advice and course! of expertsfrom outside the weapons complex. For reasons that may stem in part from the legacy of secrecy that has surrounded the production of nuclear weapons, there has been a tendency by DOE and its contractors to look inward in confronting problems. The complex has been too insular and removed from the scrutiny of the public. Until recently, DOE has not sought external and independent review of operating or engineering practices in the complex. As a result, DOE has been urged to seek outside advice (e.g., NRC 1987, 1988b, and 1989a). While not a substitute for having qualified people on the job, independent scrutiny can provide new insights and bring the benefit of outside knowledge to bear on the design and operation of plants and countless other matters. In addition, awareness of the involvement of respected outside authorities could help to restore public confidence in the work of the complex. As noted earlier, the Department created the ACNFS to provide external peer review. The ACNFS has provided useful advice to the Department in connection with a wide range of issues over the short period of its existence. The Secretary has determined, however, that the role of the ACNFS should be supplanted by the congressionally chartered DNFSB with regard to those facilities that are to be within the jurisdiction of the new board. Although we concur that duplication of effort should be avoided, we believe that there may still be a continuing, albeit perhaps modified, role for the ACNFS in connection with the entirety of the weapons complex. The ACNFS is composed of a range of individuals who have agreed to provide advice to the Department on a part-time basis. Its 15-person membership is otherwise engaged professionally with safety, environmental, and management matters outside the complex. The ACNFS thus brings a perspective to problems confronting the complex that derives from familiarity with other types of facilities, thus providing a cross-fertilization of views that the Department has lacked in the past. The DNFSB, which will have full-time commissioners and staff, cannot play entirely the same role: it will have fewer members; its function will be quasi regulatory rather than advisory; and over time, its focus and perspective will be

OCR for page 14
30 TIlENUC~ WAGONS COMPLY defined by its involvement with the complex. Moreover, unlike the DNFSB, the ACNFS can be charged by the Secretary to examine particular issues of significance to the Deparunent. The ACNFS and DNFSB are thus not necessarily equivalent, and there is benefit in retaining a role for the ACNFS in connection with an overview of the entirety of the complex. Recommendation The Department should aggressively seek outside advice, from the ACNFS and other sources, with regard to the many technical issues that it confronts in the operation of the weapons complex. Availability of Qualified Personnel Conclusion The effectiveness of the weapons complex in accomplishing its diverse, demanding tasks depends on the technical capabilities of DOE and contractor employees; qualif ed people trained in a number of relevant technical . ~ . spectacles are scarce. While it is widely recognized that upgrading of its facilities will be required if the weapons complex is to operate efficiently, safely, and without undue risks to human health or the environment, the performance of the complex ultimately depends on the technical quality and morale of the staff of DOE and its contractors. Expertise and skill can partially compensate for obsolescent facilities, but not even the newest and best facilities can be operated effectively without competent personnel. The problem of attracting and repining highly trained technical personnel is not unique to the weapons complex, but for understandable reasons the problem is aggravated here. Neither nuclear power nor nuclear weapons enjoy a favorable image in the eye of the public, and the numbers and qualifications of people completing studies in nuclear engineering or related fields or embarking on professional careers in the nuclear community have diminished markedly in recent years bag., NRC 1989b). Thus the pool of technically qualified personnel is small and shrinking. At the same time, the need for specialized expertise at the nuclear weapons complex is extensive and expanding. The fields in which the complex's needs are most acute include radiation effects, health physics, nuclear criticality, seismic analysis, environmental engineering, environmental toxicology, hydrogeology, and occupationad medicine. Recruitment The overriding issue relating to the technical strength and vitality of the complex is, of course, the recruitment, trainin`g, and retention of the best available

OCR for page 14
AfANAGEME' 31 people. In this area, the recruiting prospects of the public sector are at a distinct disadvantage when compared with those of the private component of the system. The government's hiring process is cumbersome and time-consuming. The salary structure available to attract and retain qualified employees is severely limited and not competitive with private industry in either actual salary or fringe benefits. Even if the special impediments could be ignored, the highly trained work force Mom which DOE might recruit essential employees is not large. The DOE contractors, other private sector firms, and universities, which have been dealing with these issues for a long time, are all in competition with the government in this arena. The net consequence has been a serious loss of expertise at DOE headquarters and in its field offices. Moreover, often when their on-the-,ob training begins to make new DOE technical employees effective, they become prime recruiting targets for the contractors and other segments of private industry. The effectiveness of DOE headquarters has been further diluted by competition for personnel from other agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which also require personnel with similar expertise. All these circumstances have generated a virtual crisis in the shortage of people with technical expertise in fields related to the environment, health, and safety a shortage that will be felt even more when the DNFSB is organized. Within the contractor complex, the technical strengths and personnel compositions of the laboratory and production components differ strikingly. Many of the best scientific minds in the country are in the national laboratories system, working in facilities that are second to none. This technical community is highly educated: more than half the technical staff have university degrees, most of them advanced degrees. The laboratories conduct a broad spectrum of research and development, including areas related to safety and environmental issues, and they are attractive to people interested in scientific research at the vanguard. The challenge for the labs may be in the maintenance of skills essential to the production complex, such as criticality safety, in light of the small pool of available people in such fields. The production facilities, on the other hand, have evolved within an entirely different culture, and they confront different employment challenges. The level of education of the operating work force is principally at the high school graduate level. Operators generally are given a modest amount of classroom training on procedures; the bulk of the training regimen consists of subsequent on-thejob training under the guidance of a "senior" operator. Technical oversight is performed by shift engineers generally with undergraduate-level training. However, most of these engineers have to learn the health-, safety-, and environment-related skills on the job. The challenge for the production facilities is to attract and maintain, in the face of intense competition, staff with the necessary skills in the health, safety, and environmental areas. Finally, both private and public sector employers smuggle with the painfully

OCR for page 14
32 THE NUC~M WEAPONS COMPLEX slow process of getting the required security clearances for new employees. This report is not He place to compare the benefits of securing clearances and over measures to protect secrecy with the costs these measures impose on progress, and we do not have a ready solution to recommend. We are, however, convinced that additional resources should be expended to get proficient staff on the job faster. In particular, funds devoted to increasing the number of people performing investigations required for security clearances would be more clan offset by the increased productivity of the individuals who are cleared more expeditiously as a result. Recommendation The Department should increase efforts to recruit highly competent technical personnelfor all levels of its organization. Efforts should be made to speed! the security clearance process. The Department should also establish the conditions necessary to retain personnel by providing them with opportunities for challenging assignments, participation in the decisionmaking process, and professional advancement. Training DOE places little emphasis on training its employees working in the complex. The extent and quality of the contractors' training programs within the weapons complex vary greatly from exemplary to inadequate. One of the better contractor programs appears to be at the Savannah River Site (SRS). Courses are taught by plant personnel who are assigned to full-iime training for a set period, after which they are transferred back into their previous positions. The rotation ensures that the course content and the instructors remain current. Similarly, trainees attend classes full time for the duration of their training assignment. The SRS program benefits greatly from an outstanding training facility (Building 705H), which contains, in addition to classrooms, laboratories with numerous mock-ups of facilities and computer simulations of both production and maintenance operations that allow realistic hands-on training without the interruptions and hazards of on- thejob training. The DOE training program at Savannah River has barely started. In contrast, the program at the PUREX (plutonium-uranium extraction) Plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation appears to be poorly organized. It is oriented strongly toward on-thejob training with a minimum of classroom instruction, somewhat analogous to an apprenticeship program in a craft, although it is shorter and more job specific. The complexities and hazards of processing nuclear materials make it mandatory that production workers have some understanding of the theory of the processes, in addition to purely mechanical on-thejob aspects. Programs at Rocky Flats and the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant (ICPP) suffer from a similar underemphasis on classroom instruction that needs to be rectified; fortunately, there are already encouraging signs at both plants. Rocky Flats has a new training facility and is apparently upgrading its Gaining program.

OCR for page 14
MANAGEMENT 33 And Westinghouse Idaho Nuclear Co., operator of ICPP, has adopted a fifth-shift policy to allow more lime for Gaining, a policy also being instituted at SRS. While training can generate qualified personnel for Me routine production and administrative Arks required for He safe operation of the complex, no Raining can compensate for the shortage of advanced science and technical talent available to the complex. There is no simple cure for Be ills we have enumerated: they are part of a national problem. Recommendation DOE should require each major contractor within the complex to implement a strong training program with qualified instructors, adequate classroom sessions on theory, state-of-the-art mock-~s and computer simulations for hands-on experience, and where necessary, a f~th-shift schedule to allow adequate timefortrairung. DOE should also place increased emphasis on training its own personnel.